Hearings on N.Y.C. Congestion Pricing

Congestion-pricing hearings are being planned from midSeptember to midOctober, all virtual: 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) and New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) today announced they will hold 13 public meetings between Thursday, Sept. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 13, on the proposed Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP), also known as congestion pricing. The meetings, which will all be held virtually, will allow the public in a 28-county region in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to learn more about the initiative and offer comments.

There is a Web site for information on the project.  The 13 hearings are broken down by region, with 3 specifically devoted to environmental-justice (EJ) issues.  New Jersey’s dates are September 24, 10 a.m. to 12 noon; October 4, 6 to 8 p.m.; and October 12, 6 to 8 p.m. (EJ).

There are also 2 new phone lines. The first, (646) 252-7440, would allow the public to leave comments or questions about the proposed program. The second, (646) 252-6777, allows the public to hear a brief description of the project, to register to speak at the public meetings, or request in advance language or American Sign Language services, or request language at least five days in advance of each meeting. American Sign Language services and CART Captioning will be provided for all meetings.

Riders Leave Money on MetroCards

The MetroCard has become a popular way to use New York City’s transit services; in fact, for most riders, it’s the only practical way to ride subways and buses.  Riders pay in advance to load cards with money, then use it up as they make trips.   But what happens to money that is still on cards that are lost or expire?  New York City Transit gets to keep it, and it’s counted as fare revenue; in 2012, the revenue from expiring cards reached a peak of $95 million, according to reporting by Sam Roberts in The New York Times (January 17).  MetroCards typically expire about two years from purchase; after that time, they cannot be redeemed or the amount transferred to new cards.  The amount recorded in 2012 was unusually large because many riders purchased cards before a 2010 fare increase.  Once the cards expire, do they have sentimental value?  Not much, apparently: according to the article a lot of 100 used, expired, “worthless” cards can be bought on eBay for $13.75.

Read the full article (limited access) at:


Train Late? MTA Writes Excuse Notes

If your subway train is late in New York, your boss may not understand, and a note from Mom may not further your career.  However, in New York City, there’s an alternative: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will be happy to write the excuse note, and Mom won’t have to after all.

Over the last 3 years, the MTA has written more than 250,000 such notes, according to reporting by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times (Dec. 10). The notes, called a Subway Delay Verification, won’t just be provided on a rider’s say-so; to get one, you have to provide the times and locations of your entry and exit in the subway system.  The Authority takes its time researching riders’ claims, and it may take hours or even days to verify them.  Sometimes the notes quote a large list of trains that may have been delayed at the time in question, and a potential maximum delay (in one case, hopefully extreme, the maximum delay was quoted at over 6 hours!  Some feel that the quoted delay times are over-generous.)  The system can be accessed online at the Authority’s website.

To read the complete story, go to (limited access) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/nyregion/delayed-train-skeptical-boss-mta-will-give-passengers-a-late-note.html

NY Subways Set One-Day Record

New York City Subway ridership set a modern one-day record on Thursday, October 24, 2013, when 5,985,311 riders were counted entering the system, according to reporting by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times (Nov. 21).  This is the highest one-day count since the subway started recording daily ridership in 1985.  Subway officials say there was nothing happening in particular on that day, but that ridership tends to increase in the fall, when people have returned from summer travels, and that for some reason, Thursdays seem to have the highest ridership.  The previous record was set about a year earlier, when 5,938,726 riders used the system on October 11, 2012—also a Thursday.

MTA Expects Lower Fare Increases

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority expects to scale back fare and toll increases of 7.5% previously planned for 2015 and 2017; now the increases will still occur, but are likely to be only about 4%, according to reporting by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times (November 14). The proposed new increases, which still need approval by the MTA’s board, are made possible by improved financial outlook and increasing revenues both from passengers and from real estate.  It’s not clear how the reduced increases would actually be implemented; the base fare on the subway and bus system is $2.50, and can be increased only in amounts of 25¢, so any increase in the base fare would be at least 10%.  However, the MTA has many other areas in which to increase fares and bridge and tunnel tolls.

The full article may be seen at (limited access) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/nyregion/mta-sees-smaller-rise-for-its-fares-in-15-and-17.html?_r=0

MTA Fares Increase March1 and March 3

Fare increases on MTA rail lines (Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad) are effective March 1, and average 8-9%.  NYC Transit (subway and bus) fares increase effective March 3; the base fare increases from $2.25 to $2.50. Finally implementing a long-announced change, New York City Transit has announced that MetroCards bought within the subway system starting March 3 will cost $1, in addition to any transportation loaded onto the new card.  The fee will not apply to MetroCards purchased from private vendors, obtained from employers, or in conjunction with railroad tickets for the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North Railroad; it applies only to cards obtained directly from the NYC Transit system.

In a recent change, the agency announced that MetroCards will be capable of simultaneously being loaded with a weekly or monthly unlimited-use option and with per-ride fares, thus avoiding the need for commuters to buy a second card.  This is particularly important for riders who need a per-ride card for use outside the regular subway and bus system, particularly on the PATH transit system, where only per-ride MetroCards are honored.  When a card with both types of fares is used on a regular subway or bus, the card automatically honors the unlimited-use fare until its time expired, after which per-ride fees will be deducted.  The $1 fee for new cards can be avoided by turning in an expiring or damaged Metrocard, which will be replaced for free.

NYC Transit Fare Increases Loom

Increases in the New York City transit fare structure are likely by March 1, and the base fare may not be the only thing to rise.  According to reporting by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times (Sept. 13), parent organization Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering reducing or eliminating the 7% bonus granted to riders who buy pay-per-ride MetroCards worth at least $10.  The bonus dates from the change-over to MetroCard fare payment in 1998; the discount was originally 10%, but was later reduced to the current 7%.  In any case, according to MTA chairman Joseph Lhota, changing the discount will not produce enough revenue to raise all of the $450 million the authority expects the hikes to generate, so increases in the base fare, currently $2.25, and/or in weekly or monthly rates, will also be necessary.  The authority expects to release its proposal for the new fare structure in October, with public hearings in November and a decision by the MTA board in December.